Odgers' Australian Senate Practice Thirteenth Edition

Chapter 9 - Motions and amendments

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Contingent notices

Senators may give contingent notices of motion, that is, notices that particular motions will be moved contingent upon some event occurring in the course of proceedings of the Senate or some stage in the proceedings being reached.

Most contingent notices of motion are to the effect that, contingent on a certain stage in proceedings being reached, a senator will move the suspension of standing orders to enable the moving of a subsequent motion to rearrange the business of the Senate or to have some new item of business considered.[25] These contingent notices are designed to overcome the requirement that a motion to suspend standing orders moved without notice must be supported by an absolute majority of senators to be carried.[26] By giving contingent notices, senators are able to have motions for the suspension of standing orders carried by a simple majority of senators present.

A contingent notice of motion does not allow a senator to move any motion which the senator would not otherwise be entitled to move under the standing orders. A senator could not, for example, give notice that, contingent on government business being called on, the senator would move a particular motion. The senator would not be able to move such a motion regardless of the contingent notice, because business must be called on in the order prescribed by the standing orders, and a senator is not entitled to move a motion out of that order, particularly a general business motion in the time for government business. This explains why most contingent notices of motion are for the suspension of standing orders, because it is only by the suspension of standing orders that a senator can move any motion or bring on for consideration any matter which has not been reached in the prescribed order of business.

Sometimes, however, contingent notices are given as an indication that, contingent on the stated event or stage in the proceedings occurring, the senators giving the notices will move motions or amendments which they are in any case entitled to move without notice under the standing orders. For example, contingent notice is sometimes given of amendments to motions or to bills; as explained under Amendments, below, senators are entitled to move amendments without notice, but may give notice of amendments as an indication of their intentions.[27]

On 18 September 2002 a senator moved a motion for a reference to a standing committee, the notice of the motion being expressed to be contingent on an order for documents not being fully complied with by a specified date. As the motion was a business of the Senate item, it took precedence over government business and therefore could be moved in the time for government business (other than in the three government business only times.[28] The contingent character of the notice did not give the motion any precedence to which it was not otherwise entitled.[29]

Standing order 115(2) provides that a motion for an instruction to the committee of the whole on a bill may be moved after the second reading of the bill, provided that notice of the instruction has been given. Such a notice is expressed to be contingent on a bill being read a second time.

Contingent notices are usually expressed to operate on any future day, so that they do not have to be given afresh each day.

25. See Chapter 8 under Suspension of standing orders.
26. SO 209.
27. 24/10/1974, J.287; 27/10/1982, J.1166-7; 8/12/1982, J.1286; 4/12/1985, J.692; 12/2/2008, J.17; 18/3/2009, J.1768-9; 23/6/2011, J.1095; 4/7/2011, J.1136.
28. See Chapter 8, Conduct of Proceedings, under Government and general business.
29. 18/9/2002, J.760.